The Jaguar Drum
The Jaguar Drum is a middle-reader novel about how a Mayan boy, Manik Balam – Deer Jaguar – adapts to the change of culture and religion brought by the Spanish conquest of the Mayan world. Manik was trained by the temple priests of Chan Chich to play the Jaguar Drum in temple ceremonies. The Jaguar Drum is used to call Bahlam, the Jaguar God. after three years of training, at 15, Manik is scheduled to perform in a ceremony to try to help the people of his village who are dying of a strange disease, smallpox. Before Manik can perform in his first ceremony the Spanish Conquistadores attack the temple and the village. Manik is captured and made to walk to a village far from his home. Despite a terrible journey and many of his people dying around him of smallpox, Manik makes it to the village. In the village, he and the other Mayans are treated as slaves and made to work for the Spanish. A Spanish soldier recognizes that Manik and some of the other boys from the temple have been trained to play instruments. The soldier gives Manik a guitar and teaches him to play. Manik is a natural on the guitar and quickly learns to play it well. Manik and several other young people that were also trained to play for temple ceremonies are trained to play and sing for the Spanish. As musicians for the Spanish troops, the young people find their lives much improved compared to their fellows. Manik and two of his friends, a flute player named Yaxkin, and a young woman singer named Nicte, get the opportunity to go to Spain and perform before the king. The story Chronicles their voyage, first seeing a Spanish city, a pirate attack on the ship, and their lives in Spain.